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When a State Turns on its Citizens

60 years of Institutionalised Violence in Zimbabwe

Lloyd Sachikonye

Publication Year: 2011

Lloyd Sachikonye traces the roots of Zimbabwe's contemporary violence to the actions of the Rhodesian armed forces, and the inter-party conflicts that occurred during the liberation war. His focus, however, is the period since 2000, which has seen state-sponsored violence erupting in election campaigns and throughout the programme of fast-track land reform. The consequences of this violence run wide and deep. Aside from inflicting trauma and fear on its victims, the impunity enjoyed by its perpetrators has helped to mould a culture within which personal freedoms and dreams are strangled. At a broader social level, it is responsible - both directly and indirectly - for millions of Zimbabweans voting with their feet and heading for the diaspora. Such a migration 'cannot simply be explained in terms of the search for greener economic pastures. Escape from authoritarianism, violence, trauma and fear is a large factor behind the exodus'. Sachikonye concludes that any future quest for justice and reconciliation will depend on the country facing up to the truth about the violence and hatred that have infected its past and present.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Acknowledgments, About the Author

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pp. xi-xii

Tables and Boxes

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pp. xiii


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pp. xiv-xvi

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pp. xvii-xxii

In March 2010, Zimbabwean police prohibited two significant photographic exhibitions. The first intended to display photographs in Harare of gruesome political violence perpetrated during the presidential run-off election campaign of April- June 2008. The second was held in Bulawayo to portray the ferocious violence committed by a military brigade ...

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Chapter 1 - Background, History and Patterns of Political Violence

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pp. 1-27

In March 2007, the world was shocked by the scenes of brutality seared into swollen faces and battered heads as well as broken limbs of Zimbabwean opposition politicians and civil society leaders. They had been extensively beaten and tortured by state security forces and denied medical treatment for several days. ...

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Chapter 2 - Political Violence and the Scramble for Resources

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pp. 28-44

What explains the propensity to violence in the colonial and post-colonial contexts? Our Zimbabwean case strongly suggests that it is not a behavioural or psychological tendency but a compulsive scramble for resources of political power and economic benefit, and by extension, defence of these resources and privileges once they have been appropriated. ...

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Chapter 3 - Systemic Violence and the 2008 Election

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pp. 45-61

The 2008 election was the most violent in the annals of Zimbabwe’s post-independence history. It was the most tightly fought election between ZANU-PF, which had ruled since independence, and the MDC, the opposition party founded in 1999. It was an election in which ZANU-PF lost its parliamentary majority and the first round of the presidential election. ...

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Chapter 4 - Violence and Political Culture

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pp. 62-85

What have been the effects of violence on Zimbabwe’s political culture? How has political violence shaped the views of citizens towards participation in the political process? These are issues of pertinent interest to this study. However, it is necessary to begin by providing an update on more recent patterns of inter-party and intraparty violence ...

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Chapter 5 - Wider Impact of Political Violence on Society

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pp. 86-99

In this chapter, we explore the wider impact of political violence on Zimbabwean society. We have already observed that the foundations of violence as a method and instrument in the pursuit and defence of power in Zimbabwean politics were laid over 50 years ago. Prior to that, colonial state violence was a key instrument in the maintenance of white minority rule. ...

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pp. 100-104

This study has not been an easy read. It could not be one without devaluing the experiences that thousands of Zimbabwean citizens have experienced particularly during the difficult years of 2000 to 2008. It was the object of the study to portray as vividly as possible the dark violence that accompanied repression by the Mugabe regime during this period. ...

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pp. 105-110

Almost a year after the research for this publication was completed, the situation in Zimbabwe continues to give serious cause for concern. There has been no decline in political violence. Instead, there has been an upsurge in low-intensity political retribution. This has partly been accentuated by preparations for an election in 2011 ...


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pp. 111-118

Appendix 1. A Note on Methodology

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pp. 119-121

Back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781779221674
Print-ISBN-13: 9781779221643

Page Count: 144
Publication Year: 2011